News / Health

Needle-Nose Parasite Inspires New Surgical Bandage

Doctors perform surgery at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Little Rock, Ark., undated file photo.Doctors perform surgery at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Little Rock, Ark., undated file photo.
x
Doctors perform surgery at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Little Rock, Ark., undated file photo.
Doctors perform surgery at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, Little Rock, Ark., undated file photo.
Jessica Berman
A fish parasite with a needle-like nose that pierces the intestines of its host has inspired a revolutionary medical invention that could replace surgical staples now used to hold skin grafts in place and close serious wounds.
 
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, led by biomedical engineer Jeffrey Karp, say they saw a need for an improved medical adhesive and looked to nature for ideas.
 
“When we started looking into the parasite literature, we quickly stumbled upon worms and, in particular, this spiny-headed worm that has a needle-like proboscis [nose] that inserts in the intestine of fish ... and only the needles swell, so it kind of mechanically locks into place," said Karp, describing a freshwater-fish parasite called Pomphorhynchus laevis, whose swelling and locking needle-nose design gave his team a model for the new and improved surgical bandage with unique adhesive properties.
 
Karp's prototype, a microneedle-lined bandage that plumps up when exposed to water, locks painlessly into the patient's subdermal tissue and adheres 3-and-a-half times more strongly than any clinical bandage now in use.
 
The elongated microneedle tips, made with a rigid plastic core, attach to stiff plastic inner and outer layers of highly absorbent material that is similar to the inside of a disposable diaper. When wet, the needles form a mechanical bond with the tissue.

 
The microneedle patch is also designed to eliminate two specific problems with surgery involving skin-grafts.
 
According to Karp, who consulted with Dr. Bo Pomahac, head of face transplant surgery at Brigham and Women’s, when conventional staples hold skin grafts in place, they can produce holes 2-to-3 times larger than the width of the staple itself, allowing for potentially harmful bacterial infections. The grafts, Karp says, are also susceptible to filling with accumulated fluids, which can prevent healing.
 
“Instead of using staples," Karp said, "we would apply a microneedle patch directly on top of the skin graft that will push down to the underlying tissue and essentially lock that graft in place."
 
Karp also envisions impregnating microneedle patches with antibiotics and other drugs that would infuse slowly into wounds, helping to keep them clean and quick-healing. Researchers are attempting to develop a microneedle patch that can be used to help seal, and heal, internal organs following surgery.
 
When it comes to removing the bandage, Karp doesn’t think it would hurt more than pulling out surgical staples, which penetrate skin more deeply than the microneedles on the new bandage patch.
 
The work by Karp and colleagues was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. An article describing a new micro-needle surgical bandage is published in Nature Communications.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs